PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE. If your diet requires you to dine on television spoiler-free ... good luck with that.

REVIEW ARCHIVES

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hello Devil. Welcome to Hell.

Episode 1.1: Welcome to the Hellmouth. Original Airdate 3.10.97


                                                                                        Daniel's Thoughts:

Because really, it’s the first episode – the episode that sets the standard for the show and WttHM is usually revered by Buffy fans as being one of the best [really? I mean, I like it, but it would never make my top 10. - Z] and while I agree on the whole, there are so many problems with it.  There are great subtle nuances that show us what this series will be like.  We’ve got a great opening where the viewer is tricked into thinking nameless guy is luring this poor innocent schoolgirl in order to seduce her and eat her neck except surprise (!) – It’s actually the poor innocent schoolgirl who turns out to be the vamp!  And so we’re introduced to Darla, a character that will be forgotten and then remembered and go through many changes despite not being able to age. *snerk* And the surprise “reveal” will become a staple of this show. And then we settle into the other half of what this show will ultimately be about: Life in a 90s California H.S. Drama with the grunge music and the skateboard that Xander will never ride again followed ever so closely by a David Lynchian pan down below the high school to reveal the darkness that lies beneath.  “From beneath you it devours…”  Too soon? [Alternatively, it eats you starting with your bottom. Too soon? - Z]

We meet all the characters that will grow and change in many years to come including the dowdy best friend Willow in her most fabulous dress ever.  Willow: “I don’t actually date a whole lot…”  Me: “That’s because you’re a lesbian!”  Spoilers! Xander, whose abysmal line readings make me want to kill myself: “You forgot yourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr stake?”  Yet, it’s pretty tame compared to how much I’ll begin to hate him later. And Joyce.  Oh, Joyce.  Worst. Mom. Ever.  And I know people love Joyce and I think the first time I watched this show, she didn’t get on my nerves that much but she really doesn’t try that hard to understand her teenage daughter, does she?  Buffy is a pretty self-reliant kid.  Sure she burns down the gym and gets into fights…but if Joyce weren’t so blind, she might see why.  True, it’s a fault that many Sunnydale residents face but I just can’t forgive lines like: “And honey… try not to get kicked out,” - just inexcusable when you’re dropping your kid off for her first day of school.  We’ll revisit why Joyce is the worst in future episodes but now we turn to Angel.  We don’t know who this mysterious stranger is, yet all signs pretty much point to douchebag. “to kill them…to kill them all..”  Again, this is hardly the fault of the creators…because to their (and Joss’s) credit, Angel does develop layers later…but really?  Was this the direction that Angel was going to go?  And is there much to say about Jesse?  The “best friend” of Xander and Willow’s that we’ll never ever speak of again… Cordelia – who has the best lines of the episode but hasn’t really found her place yet.  And finally Buffy, played by SMG here with actual curves.  A girl, we’ll find in episode one who just wants to fit in – to find a group of friends and be “normal”.  But she never will be( Spoilers!) and that’s what we love about her. It’s also why we identify with her so much.  My biggest beef with this episode, though, was the scene between Giles and Buffy which will be featured in the section: CROSSFIRE!    So I know I point out many problems with this pilot, but the truth is, it brought me in and slowly made me a fan. 

If I were coupling this episode with its second parter “The Harvest”, I may give it a 5 stake rating but for now: 4.5 Stakes.

Zelda's Thoughts:
  • Hey, remember when Sarah Michelle Gellar wasn't a stick? [Amen! - D]
  • I had completely forgotten that David Boreanaz used to be only a guest star. Yay! That means Season One will be less saturated with him.
  • Okay, fine, he was incredibly hot. Still awful.
  • For the record, I think Daniel is being Way Harsh Tai on poor Nicky Brendan. If you watch his face as he trips over his words continuously in his first scene with Buffy, he's doing a lot of subtle honest work very quickly. Not bad for a ballplayer.
  • "But the fun part of the Black Plague was ..." - this is an amazing throwaway line by Buffy's history teacher. It almost made it as my favorite line, except that I use Cordelia's line in real life. Real life wins.
  • See, we're mocking names like Buffy and Aphrodesia ... but can we talk about Pilot Inspektor and Apple and Blue Ivy for a moment?
  • Shenanigans! Giles must be a shitty librarian. The library's not that big, and yet he proceeds to have a shouting match about all of Buffy's deepest darkest slayeriest secrets while Xander is in the stacks? He didn't notice? Giles is so fired (spoiler!).
  • I actually kept twitching because I love Tony Head and all his ways.
  • Shenanigans! Why does Buffy have the bible seller dress anyway? Did she lose a bet? [And that leather outfit! - D] Actually Daniel, I'm willing to buy the dominatrix garb. We know she loves her leather.
  • I know Joss likes to kill people, but the real reason Jesse had to die? We don't need two Xanders.
  • Luke talking in scripture-speak is like that annoying kid in middle school who quoted musical theater lyrics all the ... oh. I'll go hide now.

Crossfire!

Daniel: The one-Starbucks town ... with a University!
Zelda: Hey, my town had no Starbucks ... and a University!

Daniel: I understand that a series premiere needs some sort of exposition but it sort of happens at the expense of making Giles seem incompetent.  There will be many instances of this in upcoming episodes that will make me tear my hair out wondering why the not-mentioned-yet council would send him to train the only active slayer…but I’m getting ahead of myself.   The part that irked me the most is when Giles asks Buffy if “the young man” will rise.  Buffy explains that in order to turn a vamp, you each have to suck each other’s blood…it’s “a whole sucking thing”….which…great, if he were asking for an explanation of how Vampires work…and since he is a Watcher…he already knows that.  And again, I understand that the audience needs to know how vamps in this particular sci-fi universe work but 1) they could have had her explain it to someone who knows nothing about vamps like Xander or Willow and B) It didn’t answer his question.  She doesn’t know if “unnamed first victim of the series” fed on the vamp or not and can’t be completely sure that he will or won’t rise again.  She runs into that problem a few times…most notably with “Theresa” in season 3. Shenanigans!

Zelda: While I take your point about the "whole sucking thing" - she really didn't seem to check (and how would she be able to tell?), BUT we don't see her leave the scene. We only see her find the body and the bite marks. It's possible she spent a good solid bonding twenty minutes with Dead Guy, chatting about this and that, checking for flecks of dried blood in his gums. WE DON'T KNOW. But what I'm doing right now is trying to write in non-existent scenes, so we'll leave it at that.

To your other point, about why Giles is having this Blatantly Expository Dialogue with Buffy about things any Slayer or Watcher worth her or his salt should know, I say this - Giles and Buffy barely know each other. What does Giles know about Buffy? She's a blonde LA girl - a perky insolent slang-talking American - who seems entirely uninterested in his many back-breaking books on the occult. She got her last watcher killed. She burned down the gym at her old school - not covert behavior at all - and got kicked out. Does Giles have any reason to trust that Buffy understands the first thing about her heritage? He's testing her. He needs to feel out this tiny stranger whose burden it is to save the world, and see if she actually has the stones to do it. ("Oh, I got the stones! I've got a whole bunch of ... stones.") He needs to try and clarify what his job will be in all this as her Watcher - start from scratch, or pick up from where Donald Sutherland left off?

Favorite line:

Daniel: "Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears." - Cordelia
Zelda: "What is your childhood trauma?" - Cordelia

90s Factoid:

James Spader was still hot.


Angel's Character:

Mysterious Stalker Douchebag.

Arc Stuff:
  • The introduction of ... everyone.
  • Buffy is from LA. She burned down the gym at her old high school. Because it was full of vampi - asbestos.
  • Giles gives the Slayer Duty speech. This will be used later. A lot.
  • Besides Vampires, Giles warns us we will face zombies, werewolves, incubi, succubi. We think he lied a bit on the last two, but we get his point.
  • Luke is the first of two roles that Brian Thompson will play in the series.
  • First appearance of Darla, The Master, Luke, and Principal Flutie.

Stats:

Voiceover - Creepy B-Movie Guy
Dead Humans - 1
Dead Undeads - 1
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 1
Evil Reveal - 1 (Darla)
Shenanigans Called - 3
Apocalypse Called - 0

9 comments:

  1. Really great first post you two! I like the way you two add comments to what the others write, it really feels like two people discussing the episode. I can't wait to hear more from you guys and to see the "Giles Cleans His Glasses" counter go up. :)

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  2. I'm with ya, Z, on the Giles testing Buffy bit.

    Great post, guys! Also, may I suggest a Buffy whine-meter? It's been asserted by people who earned my wrath that Buffy "whines more than anyone else on the show," and I'd like to see some hard data on that.

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  3. Oof, I dunno, V. I feel like degree of (or quantification of) whining is more subjective than say, a dead body or an unconscious Giles. We'll look into it though. Also I do totally plan to track Dawn's whining and other awfulness. Because I hate her. And Daniel wants to track Anya's hairstyles and colors. And any other suggestions of things to track are welcome!

    Thanks for the positive feedback, guys!

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    Replies
    1. I will take this as a victory for my side (the "how DARE you, Buffy is so not the whiniest!" side).

      In other news, Dawn should've died. :)

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    2. Well see, I get annoyed at whininess when it's like ... dude, your life is not that bad, shut up. Buffy ... has a really hard life. She has a legitimate beef with most of reality. I think she has a perfect right to not be Entirely Pleased with that, since it's not a burden she chose, and it's not one she can unchoose (Angel? He got to unchoose his fate at one point. Remember that? And he chose it back. Because he is lame, his hair grows straight up, and he's bloody stupid.).

      Now as to Dawn, while I agree with you in terms of IHATEDAWN and ALSOIDON'TLIKEMICHELLETRACHTENBERG, she needed to survive season six. She did. Buffy needed to succeed in protecting her, or I think it would be a fundamental betrayal of what Joss was doing with the show, and with that season, and with her.

      Of course now? Dawn can die any time. Aaaaaaaaanytime now.

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  4. The first couple of episodes suffered from the fact that its being adapted from a movie that was produced in the eighties. For instance, the conversations between the two random locker room girls. Very much 80's California. My view is mostly that Joss and his writers hadn't moved beyond adaption into stand alone work yet.

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    Replies
    1. The movie came out in 1992, not the eighties:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103893/

      The show was actually filmed in 1996 even though it aired in 1997, so there wasn't a huge gap between the two versions.

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    2. It cam out in 1992, but that means it was written and went into preproduction in at least the late 80's, which even if it was from 1992 alot of "teen" entertainment was still heavily influenced by the 80's.

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  5. Another reason Giles could be seeking to learn what Buffy knows:
    As later canon tells us, most Potentials are trained by their Watchers from a young age. Buffy slipped through the cracks and wasn't found by the Council until after she was called. At best, she was with Merrick a few months, and most of that was spent dealing with the very present threat of Lothos. Giles could very well think she had learned very little as a Slayer.

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